Librarian’s Choice: My favourite books for under 5s

This blog comes from Debbie, a Community Librarian in the east of Leeds.

As anyone with small children will know, the Summer Holidays bring many challenges, including how to keep little ones entertained for the entire 6 weeks…that’s a massive 1008 hours. With that in mind, I thought I would compose a list of my all-time favourite books for under 5s. As a Librarian and a mother, I have read countless children’s books over the years. Here are the 5 books that have stood out to me and I have returned to time and time again.

Each peach pear plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Deb Each peachThis is my favourite children’s book of all time. Written and illustrated by the magical duo Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This booked is packed with wonderful illustrations of fairy tale characters such as Tom Thumb, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mother Hubbard and many more. There is a little ‘I spy’ rhyme on each page and children can look for the hidden characters. The rhymes are repetitive so children can quickly anticipate what will come next and can easily learn to recite the book themselves. The book is told in easy rhyme, ‘Each,Peach, Pear Plum I spy Tom Thumb, Tom Thumb in the cupboard, I spy Mother Hubbard.

Each, Peach, Pear, Plumb takes us through a journey to find the hidden characters, but the real joy comes from discovering the other secrets hidden on each page. Children can continue the story themselves, using the many characters for inspiration. I have spent many evenings cuddled up with my children with this book and this is a book I will never tire of. This is a charming, sweet book that you will enjoy reading with your child over and over again.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler

Deb The GruffaloThe Gruffalo is my next favourite book. Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler, the Gruffalo is a classic book that will be loved by children and grown-ups for generations to come.

This book captures the imaginations of young minds. We are introduced to the characters- the Mouse, the Gruffalo, the Owl, the Fox, the Snake with the ‘innocent’ mouse as the main character. Throughout the book the Mouse shows his bravery and underlying cunningness to save himself from the various predators lurking ‘In the deep dark wood’. He is able to trick the various forest creatures into believing that he is in fact ‘the scariest creature in all the wood.’ The short rhymes and their repetitive structure make The Gruffalo a fun book to read aloud and children will quickly learn the words and be able to join in.

How the Library (not the Prince) saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown

Deb How theThis is a lovely book with an inspiring message for younger readers. There are also many positive subtle messages that perhaps only the grown-ups will understand but using this a starting point to chat to children and develop the story gives this book many layers. The overall feeling for all readers in one of positivity.

It is so refreshing to see the damsel in distress (Rapunzel) ‘rescued’ by the library-and not the prince on horseback as we normally see. Lots of would be rescuers show their hand in this book, but alas only the library can save the day! The illustrations are bright, cheerful and engaging for readers and offer a fun and refreshing
background for the tale. The book is told in rhymes and a cast of multi-cultural characters that help set this book aside from most other ‘fairytales’. As a mother (and a Librarian), I am very impressed by the messages in this book as these echo the lessons I try to pass to my children,

“So don’t just wait for your prince to show.
He might turn up, but you never know.
Pop down to your library and borrow a book
There’s so much to find if only you look.”

Eat your peas: A Daisy book by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Deb Eat your peasMy daughter loved, loved, loved this book. This is the book I had to read over and over again.

Eat Your Peas is a funny tale of the battle of wills between Daisy (who really does not like peas) and her mum. Daisy’s mum tries everything to get her to eat her peas
resorting to bribing her with treats such as staying up later and skipping bath time. However as Daisy continues to refuse her peas, Mum’s promises start to become more and more elaborate, including offers of chocolate factories, elephants and bikes. But still Daisy refuses to eat her peas. Finally Daisy makes a suggestion. ‘I’ll eat my peas if you eat your Brussel Sprouts’. Simple. Except….Daisy’s mum replies ‘but I don’t like Brussel Sprouts.

This common problem of disliking certain food makes the story easy to relate to for
children. The repetition in the book is a fun way for the children to be involved often
calling out ‘but I don’t like peas’. The pictures a clear and vibrant and would be suitable for children of all ages.

We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrations by Helen Oxenby

Deb Bear HuntThis classic book is a favourite in many homes, nurseries, schools and libraries. There is a perfect mix of rhyme and repetition which engages children from the off and the anticipation of what will happen next is enough to keep children interested in the story from start to finish.

The story sees the determined family of 4 set off on their own bear hunt and tells how they overcome several obstacles in their way, until at last they manage to track down the bear. The story is simple and fun and easy for children to join in with. The descriptions of the obstacles in their way ‘swishy-swashy grass’ and ‘thick oozy mud’ lends itself to interactive and fun storytime session, with children being able to act out the story as they go along. Reading is meant to be fun and this book certainly is that.

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#whatsyourstory – Meet Kim

kim-woodFull-time mum Kim Wood moved to Leeds seven years ago. With her husband working long hours and a new baby to look after, Kim felt isolated in a new area where she hardly knew anyone. She loved using her local library in Newcastle when she was growing up, so when she moved to Leeds she quickly sought out her local library. It’s proved a real lifeline for her and her three daughters; Sophie, Chloe and Phoebe. The girls are total bookworms and they love nothing more than coming to the library to read and explore new books – and taking home armfuls to read! Kim loves the variety of events happening at her local library and the chance to meet other parents and have some grown-up conversations! From storytimes to tea parties to food festivals, there’s always something fun going on that she can bring the family to. Using her local library has really helped Kim feel part of the community.

You don’t just have to take our word for it, here’s Kim telling you her story in her own words: https://youtu.be/C6uja0arxvw

Now you’ve met another of our Leeds Libraries ambassadors, could you be the next? If one of the many services available at Leeds Libraries has helped you, we want to know. Tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk, and let us know how we’ve helped you.

Storytime Advent

This lovely idea for enjoying reading with your little ones comes from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central library.

storytime-advent-calenderCreate your own storytime advent calendar this year, it’s easy and can be as cheap as you want to make it. All you need is 24 picture or board books individually wrapped and labelled with the date. Then each day of advent you and your child/children can open one and share the book throughout the day. It could be for their bedtime story or just a good excuse to have a cuddle on the sofa with it. It’s a great way to encourage reading because the unwrapping of the book will make it feel extra special. The best bit is that you can wrap up books you already have on their book shelf, go to the library and borrow a pile of books and if you want to add in a few that you have bought that’s fine too. Some old, some new and some borrowed, it’s up to you!

During this busy time of year getting that special 5-10 minutes together reading, laughing, relaxing, pointing out things in the pictures and asking questions about what going on is a lovely way to enjoy this festive season with your children. There are so many books to choose from at your local library and you can take 20 out on each library card but remember to renew them as the loan period is 3 weeks initially. They don’t have to be Christmassy, it completely up to you what you choose, here’s a few books we have enjoyed recently in our home to get you started.

rachel-togetherTogether… by Emma Dodd

This little sea otter loves spending time with his mummy – learning new things, playing together, or even just holding each other. In fact, every day this little sea otter spends with his mummy is special, just because they are together.

rachel-we-found-a-hatWe Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat!

rachel-grinch-stole-christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Suess

When he spies the citizens of Who-ville enjoying their Christmas preparations, the Grinch comes down from his cave and makes a dastardly attempt to take all the joy out of the occasion by actually stealing Christmas.

rachel-ten-little-piratesTen Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But what will the ten little pirates do when they meet a hurricane – and a giant squid – and a hungry shark? This fun-filled rhyming story, which incorporates counting backwards from ten to one, is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. The colourful, humourous illustrations feature objects to spot and count on every page.

rachel-detective-dogThe Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson

There once was a dog with a keen sense of smell. She was known far and wide as Detective Dog Nell. Peter’s dog Nell has an amazing sense of smell. Whether it’s finding a lost shoe or discovering who did a poo on the new gravel path, her ever-sniffing nose is always hard at work. But Nell has other talents too. Every Monday she goes to school with Peter and listens to children read. So who better to have on hand when they arrive one morning to discover that the school’s books have all disappeared! Who could have taken them? And why? There’s only one dog for the job and Detective Dog Nell is ready to sniff out the culprit!

rachel-jolly-postmanThe Jolly Postman by Janet Ahlberg

A delightful postbag of real letters for you to open and read.

rachel-alans-teethAlans Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis

Meet Alan, an alligator with a secret. Famed for his big, scary teeth, he sneaks into the jungle every day to scare the jungle animals. But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to run a warm mud bath and take out his false teeth, which nobody knows about! That is, until his teeth go missing. What will Alan do now? Scaring is the only thing he knows how to do! Can he still be scary without them?

rachel-fredFred by Mick and Chloe Inkpen

‘Fetch!’ and ‘Sit!’ and ‘Stay!’ I understand them all. Those are the words I know. But what is ‘Fred’? Fred the dog may not know his name yet or how to stay out of trouble, but one little boy will love him no matter what. A follow-up to ‘I Will Love You Anyway’, this touching rhyming story is full of friendship and tail wagging, and will touch a chord with all children who love pets.

rachel-snowmanThe Snowman by Raymond Briggs

One winter’s night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs’ favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic – narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

rachel-night-before-christmasThe Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. Clement Moore’s popular festive poem about a visit from Santa Claus is a delight to share with children.

rachel-swanSwan: the life and dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder

A Fantastically Great Children’s Book

kate-fantastic-womenIt was a warm Friday evening as I ventured down to the Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, for the book launch of ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ by Kate Pankhurst. As I entered the trendy industrial space of the Gallery there was an immediate buzz in the room of people exploring, drawing, reading, meeting, eating and drinking. There were as many children as there were adults. Kate came over to say hello and introduced me to her adorable new baby Otto. A book launch and a baby, Kate is a super women! Everyone was given a badge which had the illustrations out of the book on. Mine featured Emmeline Pankhurst the suffragette descendant of Kates; of course I immediately pinned it to my top. I had a wander round the mill to see all the fun bits and bobs Kate had set up; from a drawing table where you could draw a woman who is fantastically great to you, to a dressing up trunk filled with props that related to the great women that featured in the book. There was a table filled with tasty treats, the most incredible cakes and of course fizzy, after all this really was a celebration.

kates-book-launchI eventually made it to the table which had piles of the book in both paper back and hard back. I picked up the hard back and had a flick through, that’s when I knew how special this book was. It’s an education, it’s inspirational, every page has a splash of humour, it’s filled with Kate’s gorgeous bright illustrations, and it’s a celebration of women. It’s brimming with fascinating facts and it’s very accessible for different ages and abilities to enjoy, even the grown-ups. The diverse range of women covered in this book is incredible, from Rosa Parks to Frida Kahlo to Jane Austen, and each one of their stories is fascinating. I absolutely love the layout of the pages; each woman get a double page spread as it takes you on a journey through their extraordinary life. We have to thank Kate for her talents in creating such an important children’s book and then do our bit to introduce it to as many children (boys and girls), parents, carers and teachers as possible.

kates-book-launch-2After buying my copy I joined the queue to have it signed and addressed to my little girl. She’s a bit young at the minute to understand the context but that’s why I got the hardback because I want this book to be a staple on her bookshelf at home. Copies will be arriving into Leeds Libraries very soon, reserve it in to your local branch to borrow for free, I know you’ll enjoy reading and exploring it as much as I am.

Blog by Rachel Ingle-Teare, Children’s Librarian

Read Kate Pankhurst’s blog about the event here:-

http://www.katepankhurst.com/2016/09/the-fantastically-great-women-are-go/

 

 

 

Librarian’s Choice – Absolutely judge these books by their cover

We all judge books by their covers but within this selection what appealed on the exterior is just a glimpse of the visual feast inside. It’s really refreshing to see children’s information books being presented in this illustrative way. This selection is beautiful yet filled with fun and fascinating information. They are all available in Leeds Libraries and you can reserve them into your nearest branch for free.

Rachel Wild animalsWild Animals of the North – Dieter Braun

The imagery in this book is just gorgeous; it has a simple geometric feel but is so rich in colour. This book takes you on a journey to the farthest corners of the northern hemisphere and explores the fantastic creatures that live there. Braun’s illustrations make the animals pop out of every page, its perfect for the young naturalist out there.

 

Rachel Shackletons JourneyShackleton’s Journey – William Grill

This book is filled with tiny clever sketches which make the facts and figures so easy to visualise. I love the maps as you voyage along your Journey to the Antarctica. Grill has a really fun and uncomplicated style which is very appealing and brings this fascinating and brave story alive.

Rachel Something about a bearSomething about a Bear – Jackie Morris

The detail Morris gets using water colour is incredible, the bears just come to life on every page. This book is a bit of a hybrid between a story and an information book, which makes it really accessible for younger children especially when they are being read to. The information is delivered through beautiful wording and even has a little twist at the end. I wonder which your favourite bear will be?

 

Rachel Smart about sharksSmart about sharks – Owen Davey

Davey’s style is so unique; it has a lovely vintage feel and the colours really stand out. This book is filled with fun facts that are backed up by his minimalist yet lavish illustrations. If you love this there is another book call ‘Mad About Monkeys’ which is just as good!

Rachel Frida KhaloFreida Khalo – Eng Gee Fan

This book is part of a new series of children’s biographies ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ telling the stories of remarkable women in history. Each book is illustrated by a different artist and everyone is wonderful. They are the perfect introduction and the pictures on each page are delightful. If you love this one check out ‘Coco Chanel’, it’s fabulous!

 

Rachel AnimaliumAnimalium – Katie Scott

For any family that loves natural history this book is just fantastic; it’s a trip around a 24/7 museum with immaculate exhibits of the world’s finest and most extraordinary creatures. The illustrations are stunning and it’s packed with absorbing facts. I love the larger than average format of this book and can just imagine a family huddled together on the floor flicking through the pages.

 

Blog by Rachel, Children’s Librarian based at Central Library.

Keep them occupied!

The summer holidays are here! Time for kicking back and relaxing. Or, if you are a parent of children of a certain age, a six week quest to keep them occupied. Here in Leeds Libraries we have just bought a whole load of new children’s non fiction books that should be arriving in your local library any time now and we have a range that should be of interest, whatever your child is in to. If the right book doesn’t make it to your library, then you can reserve it for free to bring it to you.

Crafters and Artists

My daughter could, from an early age, create anything she wanted provided that we had sellotape and paper. Sometimes you need to harness those creatives and this selection of books should do just that.

CNF lets sewLet’s Sew, pub Dorling Kindersley

Your child will learn how to sew in no time with this book. From threading needles and sewing a running stitch to following patterns, ‘Let’s Sew’ teaches your child how to create their very own collection of eye-catching toys and accessories, including a decorated book bag, felt elephants, and jungle-themed pen toppers.

CNF Paper craftsPaper Crafts by Annalees Lim

This series is aimed at kids who love to be creative. By following the clear and simple step-by-step instructions, they will be able to create fashionable, original, cute, and humerous creations.

CNF How to drawHow to draw by Nick Sharratt

Jacqueline Wilson’s world of characters has been brought to life brilliantly with Nick Sharratt’s illustrations. Now your budding artist can learn how to draw them themselves.

CNF 23 ways23 ways to be a great artist: a step by step guide to creating artwork inspired by famous masterpieces by Jennifer McCully

This text is for aspiring artists. The book is packed full of step-by-step projects for crafty kids eager to discover the secrets to creating a masterpiece.

Scientists

Is your child the kind that likes to take things to bits as well as putting them together because they want to see how it works? These books are for them.

CNF SpaceSpace pub Franklin

Planets, asteroids, space travel and exploration are just some of the incredible topics you will learn about in this book. Discover what they are, what we know about them and how scientists intend to find out more about them.

CNF ExperimentsSuper Science: experiments!: 80 cool experiments to try at home by Tom Adams

This exciting lift-the-flap novelty book is packed with simple science experiments for kids to try at home. Each page will see keen young scientists try their hands at anything from building bridges to making food explode and mixing up meringues – all in the name of science! Every experiment is accompanied by a simple explanation of the science involved, making it hands-on educational fun.

CNF wacky scienceTotally wacky facts about exploring space by Emma Carlson Berne

Do you know which astronaut played golf on the moon? Ever wondered how much a space suit weighs? Have you thought about what astronauts do with their dirty underwear? Out-of-this-world facts and a bright, bold design will keep struggling and reluctant readers wanting more!

CNF your bonesYour Bones by Sally Hewitt

How many bones are in your body? Which bone protects your brain? What are bones made of? Find the answers to these questions and much, much more in this picture-packed introduction to the human body.

CNF OceanOcean: a children’s encyclopedia by John Woodward

A stunning visual encyclopedia for kids, packed with stunning photography and amazing facts on every aspect of ocean life. From the Arctic to the Caribbean, tiny plankton to giant whales, sandy beaches to the deepest depths, our oceans are brought to life with astonishing images.
The Next Bill Gates
Makes those hours in front of a screen mean something. Let them make the game, not just play it!
CNF Learn to programLearn to program by Heather Lyons
This looks at the basics of programming – what is an algorithm, basic languages and building a simple program. We then look at how simple programs can be developed to include decision making and repeat activities, and then how they can be fixed using debugging techniques. Throughout the book there are practical activities to assist learning, and links to online activities where they can practice newly learned skills.
By breaking this daunting subject down into the 10 ‘super skills’ needed, young readers can to get to grips with computer coding, and build on their skills as they progress through the book.
CNF Maths journey
Go on a real-life maths journey to practice the core topics of numbers, geometry, statistics, ratio and proportion, algebra and measurement. Through data visualisation methods, including colourful diagrams, pictograms, illustrations, photographs and infographics, ‘Go Figure!’ brings maths into the real world in an innovative, exciting and engaging visual way. It makes even the trickiest problem easier to understand and builds valuable confidence in maths!

 

 

 

 

Librarian Top 10 – Books for Bedtime

This list come from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central Library.

We read to our 18 month old daughter every night before bed. Some nights she’ll close the front cover after one page and other nights she’ll cry for more after four stories, either way is fine. We have been reading to her since the day she was born and she loves books, in fact they are her favourite toy. Bedtime stories don’t have to be about going to sleep and some of the nicest picture books to curl up with when you’re winding down before sleep aren’t. The one thing my list of favourites has in common is a gentle rhythmic text that flows well, often with a lovely positive message. Over the months we have found a selection of favourites and this is our list of top 10 stories at bedtime that are great for the adult as well as the child. In no particular order:

snail and the whaleThe Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson

This Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler combo is definitely underrated compared to the ever popular Gruffalo books, having said that it is by far one of my favourites. The words and story flow beautifully in a relaxing way as you go on an adventure discovering the marvels of the planet. This story depicts friendship, being caring and helpful as well as bravery to dream big and experience the world. It is a window to lovely dreams.

Smelly LouieSmelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

The illustrations in this book are just gorgeously scruffy. It takes you on Louie’s journey to get his smell back after his owners have given him a bath and shampooed him in roses and apple blossom scent. It’s a lovely fun story to fall between bathtime and bedtime.

LoveLove… by Emma Dodd

I absolutely adore the pastel illustrations of this book as they flash and shimmer with shards of gold. The story breezes through lots of different ways that love is presented. One of my favourite sentences from the book is “Sometimes love is quiet and it needs no words at all”. The text is beautiful and perfect for snuggling up at bedtime.

TidyTidy by Emily Gravett

Emily Gravett is one of my favourite illustrators; I think her style is amazing! Tidy is a fab and funny story about a badger that has to keep tidying up the forest. I really like how the story goes into autumn; the leaves start falling and the colours are all gorgeous browns and oranges. We always play a quiet little game where we point to the animals that are hidden all over the pages in the forest.

Peace at lastPeace at Last by Jill Murphy

This book is great to cuddle up with and it really engages the attention of my daughter. I particularly like that the words get you to act out the sound effects throughout the story, which makes it really easy to read in a fun way. It’s also all about being tired and I often find myself yawning along with Mr Bear whilst reading it in dimmed light. That’s OK though, because they won’t know it’s not part of the story. Peace at Last is a well-loved classic by many and never really seems to date.

worstprincessThe Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

This book appeals to me greatly and hopefully my daughter will grow to enjoy the spirit of the character. I really like this alternative take on the ‘traditional princess’, the text is funny and bounces along really well. It’s an excellent message to go to sleep with for a strong growing girl in a modern world.

Extra yarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are a really interesting and unique author/illustrator combination. This story is just lovely where the girl warms and brightens up the dull and cold little town by knitting jumpers for everyone including the animals. It’s a gentle magical tale where good prevails and includes an odd yarn bomb here and there. Brilliant!

Love is my favourite thingLove is My Favourite Thing by Emma Chichester Clark

I adore this story; it’s told through the eyes of a very enthusiastic little dog called Plum and all the things she loves to do. The story is so gushing and fun to read and the illustrations are cute too. It reminds me of our dogs and the things they get up to which they know are naughty but just can’t but help doing anyway. This is a really great book to snuggle up and read at the end of the day.

The paper dollsThe Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

I love this book and we’ve even made up our own tune to sing the little song that repeats throughout this story. It puts into words so well that sometimes things can be gone but will always stay in your memory and heart. Discovering some of the things that are in the little girl’s memory is just lovely and the ending is so touching. In true Julia Donaldson style the words flow in such a beautiful and relaxing way as you read this book and the calming illustrations and plain background make for a great bedtime read.

How to catch a starHow to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

It’s wonderful to sit and imagine that you can catch a star. The little boy in the story is so patient as he waits for his moment, and when the opportunity comes to catch his very own star he grasps it. What a lovely underlying message! This is a story to encourage gazing up at the night sky and it finds a fun way to relate to the stars that twinkle up there.